Lots of Cooks in the Kitchen: Violence Erupts Uptown

One likes to think of Asian restaurants as oases of almost Zen-like calm amid the sharp-elbowed cacophony of Western life. That may be true in the front of the house, but behind the scenes the staff apparently has no greater monopoly on transcendental peace and understanding than the average unenlightened Manhattan native or Brooklynite.

The Crime Blotter recently reported on a July 8 incident at an East 78th Street sushi joint where the chef, unceremoniously aroused from a nap, walloped a busboy with his fists and then struck him over the head with a stool, rendering the lowly worker momentarily unconscious.

Such corporal punishment seems to constitute an emerging pattern—perhaps even a trend—in the city’s Asian eateries. On July 21, a co-worker got into a verbal dispute with a cook at Wu Liang Ye, a Chinese restaurant at 215 East 86th Street. The argument was settled when the chef de cuisine picked up a metal-tipped stick and proceeded to strike his victim on the left ear, prompting pain, swelling, a welt and a trip to Mount Sinai Hospital.

While the victim, a 21-year-old 103rd Street resident, was unable to provide his attacker’s name, he assured the cops that he was the restaurant’s cook.

The following day, a fight broke out at Suan Eating Thai, a Thai restaurant at 872 Lexington Avenue. The victim, apparently an employee of the restaurant, said that she and the cashier got into an argument “about orders in the restaurant.”

The cashier, her victim alleges, decided to solve their differences not by establishing a protocol for the processing of food orders, but rather by scratching her chest and right arm, leaving marks. Her assailant also kicked her in the left leg.

The victim, a 21-year-old Queens resident, described her 28-year-old adversary as five feet (and zero inches) of fighting fury.

Screen Door?

A screen door was a less treacherous obstacle for a robber who visited an East 80th Street address on July 23. His victim, a 69-year-old male, told the police that he was sitting in his ground-floor office when he buzzed in a stranger who presently appeared at his screen door.

Screen doors are fine for keeping out flies in, say, Nebraska, but the average hardened New York City crook requires a slightly more formidable barrier. The perp, simulating a firearm, put his hand through the screen, opened the latch and then approached the man, demanding his wallet.

The billfold contained $100, an American Express card and the victim’s New York driver’s license. The thief, described as 5-foot-8, 175 pounds and 32 years old, fled in an unknown direction. An NYPD evidence-collection team was sent to investigate.

The Mummy

A metal pipe came crashing through the front window of Centolire, a restaurant at 1167 Madison Avenue, on July 23, and was followed apace by a left hand heavily swaddled in what a witness described as a “white-bandage material”—the resourceful perp apparently deciding to protect himself from injury as he punched a hole through the remaining window glass in order to enter the establishment and raid its cash register.

Alas, his foresight was lacking in other respects: The restaurant was still occupied, which prompted the would-be robber to flee southbound on Madison Avenue. It will cost $250 to replace the window. The police canvassed the area for somebody wrapped in gauze, but with negative results.

Customer Service

Identity theft is a national epidemic, but few of the perpetrators are as brazen as the crook who approached a 71-year-old woman as she was leaving Bloomingdale’s on July 14. Catching up to the woman at the northwest corner of 60th Street and Park Avenue at 11 a.m., the man claimed to be a Bloomingdale’s security guard and explained that there had been a problem with the customer’s credit-card transaction.

He asked to see her Bloomie’s card, so the lady, an East 72nd Street resident, helpfully handed it over to him. Then the supposed security guard asked to see a second credit card so he could compare the two. The septuagenarian’s suspicions were definitely aroused when he gave her back the Bloomie’s card but kept the second one, a Citibank Advantage MasterCard.

When the woman demanded it back, even reaching her hand out for it, the perp bolted eastbound on 60th Street. The victim promptly contacted her credit-card company, apparently tripping up the bogus security guard, figuratively if not literally, before he could use her plastic.